FRIDAY FIVE: BEST OF THE PRESEASON

FRIDAY FIVE: BEST OF THE PRESEASON

The preseason is full of players in and out of the lineup, sometimes sloppy play and progress being measured by much more than wins and losses. However, that doesn’t mean it is devoid of highlights. Here are five of the five best:

5. Oct. 7 at Portland, Everyone knows I’m in over my head: Jared Dudley’s second steal of the Clippers’ 35-point second quarter in the preseason opener at Portland was arguably the best of the preseason. He tipped away Thomas Robinson’s pass to Nicolas Batum and with his back to the Clippers’ basket, wound up with the ball and flung it over his head, blindly, to Blake Griffin, who is probably the best possible target to find on a breakaway. Griffin tracked down the pass and did the rest, finishing with a right-handed dunk.

4. Oct. 18 vs. Portland, Look out below, literally: Clippers head coach Doc Rivers spoke glowingly of DeAndre Jordan throughout the preseason, including calling him “spectacular” before practice Thursday. Jordan blocked 21 shots in six games and shot nearly 70 percent from the field. His best play, though, came on a lob from Darren Collison in the preseason home opener. Collison broke down the defense and looked as though he was firing up an ill-advised runner in traffic. That’s when Jordan appeared from his left, caught the lob and threw it down with so much ferocity that it hit Collison in the face as it whipped through the net. Collison, who scored 31 points in the game, was okay.

3. Oct. 19 vs. Denver, Defensive stand: One of Rivers’ many strengths as a coach is his defensive strategy. It paid dividends in the final seconds of regulation in Las Vegas against the Nuggets. With the game tied at 104, he inserted Ryan Hollins and Willie Green with Griffin, Collison and Chris Paul, who were already in the game. The group denied Denver its first two offensive options (a dribble handoff to Randy Foye and another one off a screen to Ty Lawson) and as the clock trickled down, Andre Miller forced the ball to JaVale McGee. The big man was blanketed by Hollins, who blocked McGee’s shot attempt to force overtime.

2. Oct. 19 vs. Denver, Inside-out and in: The play that allowed the defensive stand came from Paul, who was unbelievable in the fourth quarter. He scored 40 points in the game with a number of tough baskets. The best, though, came with 22 seconds left when he was flying up the floor after a rebound, crossed over Miller with a low dribble and dipped in for a layup despite contact from J.J. Hickson. The shot tied the game at 104 and further cemented Paul as the ultimate Clippers closer, even in preseason.

1. Oct. 23 vs. Utah, Gobert nowhere near it: Jazz rookie Rudy Gobert blocked five shots in the Clippers’ preseason win over Utah on Wednesday. He wanted no part of a sixth. With an opportunity to help on a Griffin dunk attempt, Gobert ducked out of the way avoiding what could have been another MozPerkGasol. Paul and Griffin played a two-man game at the top of the key with Griffin receiving a bounce pass from Paul in his so-called launch zone. Griffin flew in for a right-handed slam with his armpit almost above the rim.